Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Non-Shopping for the Recovering Consumer

I used to be a consumer. I liked to buy stuff. Good stuff. Stuff that made me happy. A lot of it. Especially books. My favorite thrift store used to sell books for $.10 apiece, and I would stop in every payday to spend a few dollars. Eventually, I realized that I had to get my spending under control, or be buried under a mountain of books.

When I go to a used bookstore just to browse (or while waiting for them to make an offer on my old books), I practice non-consumption. When I find a book that sounds interesting, I resist the urge to buy it. Instead, I take a photo of it with my bottom-of-the-line camera phone. Later I visit my library's website and put a hold on that book. I get to enjoy reading it and usually find that, while I enjoyed it, I don't need to own it. I get the pleasure of reading the book without paying a penny.

Sometimes I find the book so amazing that I know I'm going to come back to it again and again. In that case, it goes onto my wishlist on Paperbackswap. If after six month or so, I haven't received it from a fellow swapper, and it still sounds just as amazing as it did before, I might check out Amazon's Marketplace to buy it from an individual seller. Otherwise, I keep waiting for it to either become available at a good price, or I may find that I lose interest in owning it. However it works out, I always save money over just buying whatever books sound interesting as I shop.

I do the same thing with movies. I have a "Films to Watch" file on my computer. Whenever I see a trailer that looks good or hear of a new movie, I add it to the list. I then request these titles from the library. Some aren't available, but most are (I love my library). If I watch a library movie and find that it rocks my world, it goes on my Amazon wishlist or perhaps my birthday wishlist. I do the same thing for CDs.

Sometimes it's not a book or a movie that I want to try out, but an appliance or gadget. I will post a request on Freecycle and watch for listings from others. Sometimes I get items for free to try out. If Freecycle doesn't provide, I will start to keep an eye out at non-traditional outlets such as yard sales and thrift stores. Since I don't know how I'll take to the item, I don't want to spend big bucks purchasing it new.

If you are a recovering consumer, it can be hard to stop shopping cold turkey. Practicing non-shopping can not only keep you from making a purchase, but get you to think about why you want something, or even if you do.

For further reading, check out Penny Pinching PartyFrugal

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